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Hollywood actors and television stars are among the surprising list of faces that are popping up on the North Haven Police Department’s (NHPD) Facebook page. While you could be forgiven for thinking they’re wanted by law enforcement, in fact the humorous memes and posts are all part of the department commitment to making a positive connection with residents and sharing important messages on community safety.
The NHPD launched its #9pmroutine social media campaign on Facebook in December 2017, following a “record breaking year” of thefts from unlocked vehicles. Through the campaign, the department regularly reminds residents to make locking up their homes and vehicles a nightly habit.
“This is something a few agencies across the country have been using in an attempt to get people to get into a routine to secure their valuables,” said NHPD Captain Kevin Glenn.
Although the idea wasn’t created by NHPD, Glenn said the department has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback regarding the humor in the social media posts.
“We try to make it clear that we are not pushing any blame to our residents,” said Glenn. “We are working hard to keep everyone safe, but we need their help.”
The posts range from pop culture references, such as this Feb. 18 post accompanied by an image of Liam Neeson from the film Taken: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for unlocked cars, I can tell you North Haven residents shouldn’t have any...but what the North Haven Police Department does have, are a very particular set of skills. Skills we have acquired over very long careers. #9pmroutine!” to more simple messages, such as the Feb. 23 post “75 days ago we started this nightly reminder. We are going to take the night off from reminding you to #9pmroutine. Usually, we would remind you to lock up and join the #9pmroutine, but tonight, we are not. Enjoy your evening, and thank you for helping us help you!”
The department is also active in sharing updates on road conditions and criminal activities via social media. Sometimes, humor finds its way into some of the latter, such as this Feb. 17 “Lost and Found” posting: “Last night, North Haven officers were called to a Universal Drive restaurant for a report of found property. Staff was cleaning a booth when they noticed a patron had left a bag behind. Inside the bag were 100 smaller bags of heroin. If anyone is looking for your lost heroin, please contact the North Haven Police at 203-239-5321, we would like to speak with you!”
The popularity of the posts has led to an increase in the number of residents who follow the department on Facebook (www.facebook.com/northhavenpd) and Twitter (twitter.com/NorthHavenPD), and while the NHPD can’t say it’s a direct result of the initiative, Glenn reports that the amount of thefts from unlocked cars has decreased significantly.
“We saw the amount of thefts cut in half,” said Glenn.
According to an NHPD Facebook post on Feb. 24, the NHPD responded to 80 thefts from unlocked cars in the 76 days prior to launching the social media campaign, and just 41 thefts from unlocked cars in the 76 days after the initiative started.
First Selectman Michael Freda is one of many supporters of the #9pmroutine initiative. Freda said that based on the number of “likes” or views the posts get, it’s something that’s caught on and is now entrenched in the community.
“If there are those people who were keeping their cars unlocked, and now they’re locking the cars as a result of the social media reminders, that’s a good thing,” he said.
Freda believes its important residents understand that these crimes may happen quickly and at unexpected times, recalling an occasion he was at home and outside went to get something from his car at 5:45 a.m., returned to the house, and when he went back to the car 45 minutes later, discovered the car had been “ransacked.” While no items were stolen, Freda said other cars on his street were also hit that day.
More recently, Freda said cars have stolen in town because people have left their keys in their cars.
“These thieves seem to know where cars are unlocked, and this is why I have supported this initiative to remind everyone to lock their cars,” Freda said.
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